SINGAPORE: Singaporean rapper Subhas Nair, known by his full name Subhas Govin Prabhakar Nair, received a six-week jail sentence on Tuesday (5 Sept), for making statements between July 2019 and March 2021 that compared races and religions.
The 31-year-old was convicted in July on four charges related to allegations of attempting to promote ill will among racial and religious groups due to comments made on social media.
Despite his conviction, Subhas Nair remains steadfast in proclaiming his innocence and has outlined his intention to appeal both the verdict and the sentence, as conveyed by his legal representative, Mr Suang Wijaya, from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.
According to CNA, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan, concurring with the prosecution, emphasized the critical importance of deterring such offences, and “takes on a greater significance in the age of social media and the internet.”
The judge said that harmful, racially charged messages can spread rapidly to a vast audience.
Furthermore, he stressed that such messages not only harm the targeted racial and religious groups but also have a detrimental impact on society as a whole.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Suhas Malhotra and Jordon Li sought a six-week jail sentence, while defence lawyer Mr Suang Wijaya proposed a 20-day term.
The judge pointed out that previous legal precedents typically involved jail sentences in similar cases.
He disagreed with the defence’s argument that Nair’s case was less grave because he refrained from using racial slurs or derogatory language.
“In my view, sowing racial and or religious discontent by alleging that law enforcement in Singapore discriminates based on race or religious grounds is just as serious as the casting of racial slurs.”
He emphasized that such actions have the potential to erode trust in law enforcement agencies and undermine law and order.
Nair plans to request bail while awaiting his appeal. Some of his supporters, including his sister, attended the hearing.
The penalties for attempting to promote hostility between racial or religious groups include a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.
The case’s background
The charges against Nair stemmed from a YouTube video where he, alongside his sister Preeti Nair, performed a remixed song containing the lyrics, “Chinese people always out here f***ing it up.”
For this, Nair was given a two-year conditional warning by the police. The warning indicated that if he reoffended, he could be prosecuted for this incident on top of any fresh offences.
The second incident involved an Instagram post where Nair commented, “If two Malay Muslims made a video promoting Islam and saying the kinds of hateful things these Chinese Christians said, ISD would have been at the door before they even hit ‘upload’.”
He was referring to a viral video by two Christians who linked the gay pride movement to Satan.
The third incident involved Nair’s Instagram post where he claimed that “calling out racism and Chinese privilege” would lead to a two-year conditional warning and “smear campaign in the media,” while “actually conspiring to murder an Indian man” would result in half the sentence and the question “you’re having a baby soon right? Boy or girl” from the media.
Nair made this post in response to the case of Chan Jia Xing, who was given a conditional warning for a reduced charge of consorting with a person who had a weapon. He was one of the seven originally charged with murdering a man at Orchard Towers.
The fourth incident took place during a stage play at The Substation, where Nair displayed a cartoon repeating the same words pertaining to Chan Jia Xing.